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Thousands evacuate as Philippine volcano rumbles

Sunday January 12 2020

Taal volcano in Philippines

People take photos of a phreatic explosion from the Taal volcano as seen from the town of Tagaytay in Cavite province, southwest of Manila, on January 12, 2020. PHOTO | BULLIT MARQUEZ | AFP 

AFP
By AFP
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Manila,

A volcano near the Philippine capital Manila spewed a massive cloud of ash into the sky on Sunday, forcing the precautionary evacuation of thousands of residents, authorities said.

Government seismologists recorded magma moving towards the crater of Taal, one of the country's most active volcanoes located 65 kilometres (40 miles) south of Manila.

That increases the chances of an eruption that could happen "within days to within weeks" if such activity continues, Renato Solidum, chief of the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology, told AFP.

Taal's last eruption was in 1977, he added.

TREMORS

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A kilometer-high column of ash was visible and several volcanic tremors were felt within the vicinity of the volcano, which is popular among tourists for its scenic view.

The local disaster office said it had evacuated over 2,000 residents living on the volcanic island, which lies inside a bigger lake formed by previous volcanic activity.

Solidum said officials will also order the evacuation of people living on another island nearby if the situation worsens.

RING OF FIRE

Earthquakes and volcanic activity are not uncommon in the Philippines due to its position on the Pacific "Ring of Fire", where tectonic plates collide deep below the Earth's surface.

In January 2018, Mount Mayon displaced tens of thousands of people after spewing millions of tonnes of ash, rocks, and lava in the central Bicol region.